Saturday, December 31, 2011

What are you looking for?

I hope you're having a good break in this "in-between" time wedged in amongst Yuletide and New Year. We went for a lovely drive yesterday to The Dandenong Ranges, just outside of Melbourne. We had a nice old-style, sit-down lunch in Sassafras and then walked it off on a bush walk just behind the village. Driving on to Olinda, we walked part of the way around the beautiful four kilometres of The National Rhododendron Gardens. We'll go back there in Spring - it would be amazing to see them all in flower.

A white Protea - I had never seen one before, thinking they only flowered in pink

A gecko who patiently waited while I took his photo

A mighty gum tree

Wild forget-me-nots

The canopy of green

We're expecting 36 degrees tomorrow and 38 degrees Monday, so it was nice to get out into the bush before really hot weather hits.

At a new-agey shop in Sassafras, The Oracle, I picked up the following 'fortune' from a bowl at the front door -

You will find what you are looking for, but stop looking on the outside for what can only be found on the inside.

This is surprisingly apt for me at the moment, and it's a thought I'll carry into the new year. What about you? What are your new year thoughts or resolutions?

Wishing you a new year of happy days and all that your heart desires.

~ Feronia x

Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Tidings

Warm wishes to you from the Yellow Wood for a wonderful Yuletide.

I have only a little more to do before the Yuletide season begins in earnest. How about you? I'll be painting on and then baking a plate for my parents today as well as printing another piece of cloth to wrap around their Ikea food goodies. I might make some shortbread too. Unfortunately it is humid and predicted to reach 31 degrees today, so turning on the oven is not a very appealing option!

Tomorrow, I'll head off to the (shudder) shopping mall to pick up a few last minute gifts (some of my online purchases have failed to materialise) and also buy the ingredients for apricot balls, cherry ripe slice and Russian fudge (if you like the sound of these, head over to Tiny Happy. Melissa has been posting some gorgeous recipes) which I'll make tomorrow afternoon. I'm on salad making duty on Sunday, so I'll also need the bits and pieces for pasta and cheese salad, potato salad and green salad. All of these are fairly quick makes, so I am not unduly stressed.

What's on your last-minute to-do list?


I have so enjoyed watching the repeats of Pride and Prejudice lately and now I am reading Emma with equal enjoyment. This may not be a Christmas scene but I couldn't resist posting a bit of Regency festivity at this time of year.

If you love Jane Austen and knitting, you might be interested to pick up Jane Austen Knits at I have just downloaded it and it looks absolutely beautiful.


Take care x

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simple Pretty, Pretty Simple

I was very pleased with how this turned out. I bought a rubber stamp at a craft shop on the weekend for $3 and completely on a whim decided to stamp it onto some calico 'pudding cloth'. I really like how it looks! I'm going to stamp a large piece of cloth now (this was my sample!) and wrap some edible goodies I bought from Ikea for my parents in it. I think I might have a go at making my own stamps over the break. Does anyone else make their own rubber stamps?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's Swedish for Retail Therapy?

In amongst a sudden and unexpected flurry of work stuff, I have been tinkering away on a few little crafty-cookingy type projects. Yesterday I made coconut ice. I don't know if this is an exclusively Australian confection? Essentially, it's a sugar-level-disrupting mix of coconut, condensed milk and icing sugar. So bad and yet so very good. I made this batch as a Christmas gift for a friend's little daughter and I am also planning some more for our Christmas Day stops, as well as brownies or perhaps rocky road.

I also stitched this brooch as a belated birthday gift for same said friend. Oh, vintage doilies, how I do love thee.

This morning I did one of my rare pilgrimages to Ikea. I have always liked Ikea but I have never been that excited by it. But today there were so many very good bits and pieces! I spent far more than I intended but I didn't buy anything I didn't really love or need (I think William Morris would approve).

On the fifth day before Christmas,
On a trip to Ikea I did buy,
Thirty birdy napkins,
Twelve fabric hearts,
Eight picture frames,
Four birdy placemats,
Three cooking pots,
Two scented candles,
Two nice prints,
Two jars of jam,
Two jars of mustard,
One bottle of glogg,
One packet of crispbread and
One packet of toff-ee!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Double Cream

I am in love with all things cream and white at the moment. And perhaps a little bit of brown, as is the case with these lovely owls in Peter Slater's A Field Guide to Australian Birds.

Beautiful Japanese craft books...

The beginnings of some embroidery...

Some more soothingly simple knitting with the Alafoss Lopi wool...

And a little brooch I stitched.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dreaming of Snow

Illustration by Ivan Bilibin

Summer is upon us here in Australia, and so I am dreaming of snow! As you may know, I am not a fan of summer. I find the heat confining and too restrictive on one's activities, especially when it gets to that point of really being too hot to leave the house. It is very warm today but the real warmth, when everything seems to be coated in an eerie simmering calm, will not (hopefully) be here until the new year.

So I am sifting through the Net for photos of Russia and Norway's snowy landscapes, that peculiar, almost iridescent blue-grey Northern light and a glorious clip from the film "Eugene Onegin" which captures just that light, the gorgeous interiors that reflect nature's winter colours and of course the chill of Ralph Fiennes' Onegin!

Russia from The Guardian

Image from

Friday, December 2, 2011

At this very moment

Right at this very moment, I am loving...

Coming up with some unusual (and hopefully loved) gifts for the family at Etsy and managing to break away from the dreary commercial offerings that are being rammed down our collective throats at the moment. I'll also be making up some hampers comprising the homemade goodies we talked about last week.

Listening to the peaceful, optimistic music of my mother's youth on my IPod, along with a few added bits and bobs of my own.

Having too much to read! At the moment I am thoroughly enjoying My Father's Country by Wibke Bruhns, as well as Christopher Stevens' Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. News from Nowhere by William Morris and Sally Beddell Smith's Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House are waiting on the bedside table, along with all the other books I am still dipping in and out of!

What about you?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lives in a house, a very big house, in the country

Image from

I had a lovely op-shop find yesterday - a 1963 Country Life annual. Do you know Country Life? It's a British magazine that's been around for many years focussing primarily on the tastes and habits of the English landed gentry (or what's left of it these days). Unfortunately I couldn't find any 60s covers online to show you but you get the idea with these two from this year - country houses and dogs. The 1963 number is a real treat, though, with all sorts of genteel articles about art, rambling and the English countryside. Not to mention "Saturday to Monday: A British Institution" - that is, what to pack for a weekend at a country house. Kit yourself out at Burberry, Moss Bros., Pringle and Aquascutum for a start, dress to "defend yourself against brambles" and wear "slacks, if you know your host does not disapprove...but skirts are more general". You couldn't say I don't give you valuable advice here!

Image from

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brideshead Revisited Revisited

The latest remake of Brideshead Revisited was on TV last night. I hadn't really planned to watch it, having not heard good reviews of it when it was released in the cinemas, but I gave it a go. It was up against it after the almost legendary TV adaptation made in 1981 with Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews brilliant as Sebastian Flyte. I loved that version so much that I bought the DVD boxed set. And I have always loved the score - I even had it on a vinyl LP. Having seen that series numerous times and marveled at how they had captured in a TV series such subtlety, I was doubly overwhelmed when I finally got around to reading Evelyn Waugh's beautiful book.

So, as I say, coming to the 2008 film version, they were up against it. I didn't mind the first half of it but as the plot progressed, the interpretation that the film's directors had decided upon - focussing heavily upon Charles' relationship with Sebastian to an extent and then to a large degree his relationship with Julia - was laid on so thickly and plainly that any of the subtlety and beauty of Waugh's story and the 1981 production was lost. But, having said that, my husband, who hasn't seen the Irons/Andrews version or read the book, quite enjoyed it. So perhaps I came to it too biased. What do you think about film and TV adaptations? Have you seen any of your favourite books done really well or...not so much?

Friday, November 25, 2011


Thank you so much for your great suggestions for making a more handmade Christmas. I also found this terrific list on Facebook put together by Pip Lincolne -!/notes/justb/edible-christmas-gifts-to-make/228936923840028 I am not a great fan of Christmas for various reasons so I am thinking (and hoping!) that approaching it in this way - with a little bit of crafty goodness - might just be enough to perk it right up for me!

Does anyone read the English Woman's Weekly? My grandmother read it religiously and even had a copy put aside for her every week at the local newsagency. I used to love looking at all the amazing cakes and spectacularly complicated but beautiful jumpers when I was a child and a lot of my early reading was of The Robin Family serial (it's about a family of robins, surprisingly). Lately I seem to be finding vintage copies of it around the place and I've quite fallen in love with it.

From comfort reading to comfort viewing, I watched The Royal last night for the first time. I had dismissed it previously as nothing more than Heartbeat set in a hospital but it is really quite good (and Wendy Craig is the matron, Butterflies fans!). Very nice, satisfying telly and that, sometimes, is just what one needs.

What's been comforting for you this week?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The C Word

Every year I say to myself, "I hate Christmas! It's so commercial! Why can't we have Christmas like they used to and make things to give? All this materialistic rubbish!" etc., etc. You get the idea. And every year I completely fail to practice what I preach because I can't think of what to make for people that won't appear to be some horrible, second-rate, cobbled-together, cheapskate gift rather than something gorgeously handmade that people will cherish.

But this year I am determined to make at least some handmade gifts. The question is - what? I am toying with the idea of some 'quick makes' on the knitting loom, like fingerless gloves (even though I am still very much a novice) and I am also thinking of lemon butter since our lemon tree is going absolutely mad at the moment and there are lemons everywhere. Then I get stuck for ideas. Do you have any suggestions? What gorgeous things are you making/have you made?


More music today...the wonderful Sandie Shaw, first singing one of her 60s classics and then a song she originally did with The Smiths. I have discovered a Smiths tribute band (Plagiarism Begins at Home), actually (imagine my excitement), and we're going to see them play on December 3. Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rush Hour

It was all go in the backyard yesterday evening. At about 7 pm, my husband and I went out to pick some herbs for dinner and I noticed that lots of passionflowers had come into bloom on the passionfruit vine. Upon closer inspection, I also saw that rush hour was in progress.

A little spider went steadily about his final business for the day...

While dozens of bees grabbed up the last lots of pollen to carry back to the hive...



I couldn't resist posting another Kate Bush clip today, this time - since I am about to start reading a bio of the Bronte sisters - the wonderful "Wuthering Heights".

Monday, November 21, 2011

Right now I'm...

knitting with the thick Alafoss Lopi wool on thick needles
Listening to old Kate Bush songs on You Tube
Reading An Academic Question by Barbara Pym and finding it so much more enjoyable the second time around
Eating pumpkin pie made by my husband from our pumpkins. Yum!
Discovering Pride and Prejudice (Colin-Firth-as-Mr-Darcy-version) on late night TV and loving it all over again

And how about you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

We have a winner! librarygirl ( has correctly guessed that "Scarborough Fair", a beautiful old English folk song made famous by Simon and Garfunkel in the 60s, was the song title suggested by my photo on Wednesday! Thanks for 'having a crack' as we say here in Australia, librarygirl! The pretty, pretty doily will be winging its way to you very soon.

And here is the lovely song itself...

Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In Apple Blossom Time

Does anyone know what this little guy is? I'm thinking apple blossom for some reason - I have no evidence for this - and the tree is entirely self-sown. Any suggestions appreciated!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fly like a starling

As we were preparing dinner last night, I looked down at some of our garden's herbs on the chopping board and I thought: "I reckon post number 424 is about time for a giveaway!" Or something like that. So...if you would like to have a very pretty thrifted doily framed in an embroidery hoop to hang on your wall, I would love to send it to you as a way to say "Thank you!" for popping into the Yellow Wood to have a wander around. All you have to do is the song title suggested by the herbs above! A winner will then be randomly generated on Friday and I will happily send this little bit of vintage pretty off to anywhere in the world!

This breathtaking video of a murmuration of starlings has been doing the Internet rounds lately but it is just so incredibly lovely, I just had to post it. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Going Loomy

Nice, nice, nice stitch with my Icelandic wool...

The littlest loom at work (and I found Isela Phelps' The Beginner's Guide to Knitting on a Loom in the library today)

Many months ago, I acquired a set of knitting looms from the kind and generous Meg at Land of Meg ( I have to admit that they then sat in the study for rather a while because I just wasn't sure what to do with them and so I kind of moved on to other things. For no reason at all I picked them up the other day and thought "I'm going to learn how to use these things!" So, as we all do when we want information these days, I went to You Tube (!!) and found a how-to video. And...I love it! It is so easy and you get such nice results so quickly. I think I may even soon be able to make socks, despite months of puzzling over circular needles and wondering how on earth I would ever perform such a feat (I nearly wrote feet!) with conventional knitting needles. If you would like to try knitting but haven't had much luck using needles, I urge you...get a loom!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Nostalgia

A little bit of nostalgia today. For no reason at all, Cricket magazine popped back into my head yesterday. I haven't thought about it in years but I read it religiously when I was a child in the late 70s and early 80s. They had a healthy supply at our local library and I would stock up whenever we paid a visit. I found some copies on Etsy yesterday and I've indulged myself by buying them. Did you read Cricket? What did you read as a little one?

And The Magic Roundabout. Brilliant. Did you watch it? I do wonder though that I understood it completely at age 3 or 4. "No wonder she was nationalised"??? Social commentary for the under-fives. I love it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A very necessary thing

So Blogtober is over. I didn't manage 31 days but ah, well. It was fun. And that's the main thing, I reckon. Actually, I noticed that I 'blogtobered' on 1 November by mistake, so do I get extra brownie points? :)


I have just (literally, just) finished a long piece of writing which has been annoying me for some weeks now. It just didn't work for so long. Now, I think it does - at least it's better - and it's over deadline anyway, so off it goes. Correspondingly, my brain is now fairly mushy!


Grey and cool here today but we are apparently expecting 33 degrees on Sunday. Typical Spring weather!


So many books waiting to be read on my bedside table right now:

Anita Brookner, The Rules of Engagement (In Progress)
Aeschylus, The Oresteia
Hilda Ellis Davidson, Roles of the Northern Goddess
Lucinda Hawksley, Lizzie Siddal (In Progress)
Kate Grenville, The Secret River
Tracey Chevalier, Remarkable Creatures (In Progress)
Magnus Magnusson, Viking~Hammer of the North (In Progress)
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit (STILL In Progress)


I found a cassette tape of The Muppet Movie soundtrack in an op-shop yesterday. I think this song pre-dates that movie, but it's lovely, so I thought I'd pop it in. Ah Kermit, a very Zen frog.


So what's news with you?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blogtober Day 19 - A large white rabbit

Reading Beanie Mouse's blog just now ( and seeing a pic of some sweet bunny statues in London, I was immediately reminded of Walter, the giant inflatable rabbit we saw in Singapore. We saw him out the front of the Singapore Art Museum ( on Bras Basah Road in Singapore but apparently he moves around town a bit too, as you can see above and below. Just the sort of whimsy I love! He's the creation of artist Dawn Ng.

The two photos above are from

This one is from the Singapore Art Museum website.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogtober Days 17-18 - Teenage Dreams

I had a major crush on Nick Heyward. His current website is nicely whimsical and worth a look -

I still know all the words to this.

I remember every week throughout my high school years, I would buy Number One magazine. It was from England and I was a bit of an Anglophile in those days, especially with regards to matters pop. And every fortnight, I bought Smash Hits. I loved the British pop bands of the day and their floppy-haired lead singers. Last week ABC, who were faves of mine back then, were playing at a local venue, along with the lead singer of Spandau Ballet. Did I really want to go see them? They'd be reliving the past, and so would I. Hmmm. Best stick with You Tube and memories of teenage dreams on this one.

Who were your teen crushes?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogtober Days 16-17 - Unexpected

I have been busy trying to finish off a piece of writing this week so it's been a bit rush, rush, rush. I had a letter to post yesterday and so flashed quickly into an op-shop ("I don't really have time for this, but...") as I was walking back to the car from the post office. I was delighted to find a number of balls of Icelandic wool (Alafoss Lopi - have you ever used it?). It's so lovely and unprocessed looking (and feeling). At first I wondered if Alafoss was Icelandic for alpaca but it seems to just be the brand name!

Also some gorgeous little crocheted doilies, just right for framing in embroidery hoops...

And this great crocheted wall hanging. So cute! Love a flying and unexpectedly fruitful thrifting stop!

I am in no way religious in the conventional sense and I don't subscribe to any of the organised religions. Yet I have found unexpected enjoyment in listening to some gospel music this week, especially as sung by the American singer Allison Krauss. I love the purity and simplicity of sound. You might recognise this song from the Daylesford ad if you are local or from the movie O Brother Where Art Thou. So peaceful. Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blogtober Days 15-16 - Pymanalia

Writing a post every day is harder than I imagined!

I found some lovely books on a flying visit to the local library yesterday. Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs, which has all sorts of beautiful embroidery projects in it and lots of use of felt, which apparently has been used in Scandinavia as far back as old Norse times. Hopefully I will manage to make something from it, though sometimes I must admit I just like books like this for the pictures! Also, Keepsakes by Frances Hansen. Lots of great old-fashioned recipes but with suitably up-to-date twists to take them out of the stodge zone - curried sausages and boiled fruit loaf are looking good already. Great vintagey style to the book too.

And...I think I may be onto something in my quest to find a writer similar to Barbara Pym. Anita Brookner (that's her in the Nation Portrait Gallery photo above). I saw Hotel du Lac when it was made into a telemovie many years ago (with the Pymmish heroine par excellence Anna Massey) and I read Brookner's Latecomers a couple of months ago. Yesterday I borrowed The Rules of Engagement and it's started out very promisingly indeed. Any other Pym- or Brookner- ites out there who'd care to comment?

Speaking of Barbara Pym, if you are a Pymite (Pymster, Pymmie, Pymian?), have a look at The Barbara Pym Society's webpage - there are lots of really interesting essays there from their annual conferences.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogtober Days 14-15 - A Breath of Fresh Air

Sorry to miss Friday's Blogtober post, but I knew that there was a photo opportunity coming up on Sunday! We went to help my parents out at Blackwood. They have a small holiday cottage up there and every year before the summer hits, a property clean-up is in need. Our family has long had a connection with the town - my grandfather was born there in 1905. It was a goldfields town in the nineteenth century and very different to what it is now, back then it even had its own skating rink! Now, it is a very peaceful place with lots of lovely walking tracks surrounding it. I took the time to snap a bit of the pretty native foilage yesterday - the gumnuts above, for example.

As well as taking a walk to the local cemetery where there are lots of beautifully ornate Victorian gravestones and memorials.

This is called broome, I think. So pretty - I brought a bunch home.

A lovely ivy grove which has developed quite spontaneously under a huge gum tree. I am quite sure the fairies live here. I was always told not to knock over toadstools (of which there are many at Blackwood in winter) when I was child because fairies lived under them.

Another native...not sure of the name (sorry!). This plant lived on our balcony when we were still renting and died a sad death - my mother has resurrected it.

Such a nice day! Hope you had one too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogtober Day 13 - Fiddling About

I like to make jewellery and I am trying to add some new strings to my skill bow so I can make a few new bits and pieces for my Etsy shop, In Dark Woods. So it is that I am trying to work with wire at the moment. What I've discovered this afternoon is that I really need some round-nosed pliers if I am going to be able to make nice, neat spirals. I have had some fun in the meantime, though, 'free-forming' with the wire, binding it around and around some pieces of sea-glass to just see how they turn out. I quite like them and I think the irregular wire work suits the ragged pieces of glass. What do you think?

And a perfect accompaniment to this sort of fiddling is The Sundays on You Tube. What do you listen to while you work?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogtober Day 12 - Stitch

I was delighted to find this hand-worked tablecloth in an op-shop today. It's covered in these lovely, folky panels. Pretty, isn't it?